Barcelona's current and former presidents Bartomeu and Rosell face jail term in Neymar scandal
Madrid, March 24 (IANS/EFE) The Spanish anti-corruption prosecutor has requested jail term for Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the football club's former president Sandro Rosell over charges of tax evasion allegedly committed in the signing of Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.
The prosecutor also asked in the indictment submitted to Judge Pablo Ruz to impose a fine of $24.21 million on Barcelona, which will be tried as a legal entity, judicial sources said on Monday.
The prosecution asked for a prison sentence of two years and three months for Bartomeu on charges of tax fraud in 2014, while Rosell is charged with similar crimes committed in 2011 and 2013, in addition to fraudulent administration offences. He faces seven years and three months prison time.
Both defendants are accused of the alleged fraudulent signing of Neymar, whereby the club evaded taxes amounting at $14.19 million over three years.
On the other hand, Barcelona faces three charges of tax evasion for each of those three years, for which the prosecution asked $12.43 million to be paid by the club to the Spanish treasury as civil liability compensation.
Rosell will be liable to pay $10.36 million of that amount while Bartomeu and the club will be liable to pay the remainder, coming out to $2.07 million.
The indictment alleges that Neymar's deal was concluded with an overall cost of $91.1 million, while Barcelona reported in its tax returns that the transaction was only worth $62.37 million.
According to the prosecution, Rosell and Bartomeu agreed in a meeting held with Barca's manager in February 2013 to sign Neymar the following year, with an agreed total cost of $43.63 million. However, when the decision was made to sign Neymar earlier, in 2013, an additional cost was incurred, and apparently not reported.
The prosecution also claims that the decision was taken by Rosell and Bartomeu without the authorisation of the club's board, which resulted in Rosell leading the negotiations for an early signing of the Brazilian player.
Neymar's early signing resulted in additional expenditures of $18.71 million, which Barcelona had to pay to Brazilian club Santos FC to buy out the remainder of the player's contract, in addition to amounts paid in anticipation that the player would not commit to the agreement, and would sign with another club.